"I feel good," she said in a press conference. "But I have a lot of work ahead of me."
Born in Germany in 1954, Merkel grew up in a rural town north of Berlin. She attended the University of Leipzig, where she graduated with a degree in physics. She also earned a doctoral degree in physics and worked in a specialized chemistry field until 1989, when the changing political climate prompted her to join the movement for democracy.
She served first as the Minister for Women and Youth and then as the Minister for Environment and Reactor Safety in the CDU. In 1998, Merkel became the Secretary-General of her party. She was popular with the German people and she had hoped to defeat Schroeder in the 2002 election. Although he won re-election then, she has finally been chosen as the next chancellor.
Merkel is a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), while Gerhard Schroeder, the current chancellor, is part of the Social Democratic party. She won the September 18 election by such a small margin that the Social Democrats asked for a compromise in power. They came to the agreement that the Social Democrats will give up leadership of Germany, but they will command most of the ministries, or departments, including the important Foreign Ministry.
Merkel's goals for her upcoming term include improving relations with the United States and reducing unemployment.